Working in Public

I’ve been thinking a lot about Future Fonts lately for some reason. If you’re unfamiliar, that’s the typeface shop that opened up about eight months ago. I think my fascination stems from the constant stream of updates I’m seeing from folks publishing their fonts on that platform and the wild contrast in visual styles between them.

There’s something about looking at a type family and seeing that it’s at VERSION 0.1 that feels very punk rock to me.

Anyway, I’ve bought two families from Future Fonts, Goiters and Covik Sans Mono over the eight months or so since they announced their service. Both fonts have received significant improvements since then and it’s neat to see how tiny communities are building up around them.

Goiters for example, by Jake Fleming, has had a number of new weights added to the set to more fully flesh out the family.

It’s also neat to see a type designer in the comments responding to requests and listening to customers – I feel like unless you’re an established and already famous type designer, the author of a typeface appears hidden from most type foundries and websites. It often appears as if a typeface has been conjured from a giant broth under a full moon, a type designer acting merely as a vessel – a wizard – through which the spell can be cast. Instead of, you know, just being a regular person who sits in front of their computer all day for months on end.

So seeing type designers working in public like this is certainly novel to me.

Also, I’ve had my eye on a few new typefaces from Future Fonts lately, namely Tweak Text by Katja Schimmel which has a lovely italic:

Not to mention Katja’s outstanding complimentary display version of the same family, Tweak Display. It has this enormous slab serif thing going on that, if you step back away from it a little, reminds me of gothics from the 16th century. The italics are similarly weird, too. Take a look at ‘change’ in the specimen below and prepare to have some very good but weird feelings:

Just…yikes. Also! I fantasize about speaking Korean, solely that I could make a website out of Dunkel Sans by Minjoo Ham. Just take a look at these strokes that command every ounce of your attention:

I also very much like Cheee by James Edmonson of OHNO Type Co. but for different reasons. You can experiment with Cheee over on the Font Playground to see them in more detail:

The latest update to Cheee that launched on Future Fonts now has a temperature axis that lets the characters melt away like this:

Typefaces like Cheee show that variable fonts are not only limited to width and weight variations, as even gravity and yeast can be variables in our designs. But variations don’t only have to apply to typefaces, as even word marks and logos can have variable font features. Take the AIGA logo for example that James mentions in his post about practical uses for variable lettering. He shows that you might want to have a variable version of the logo so that at smaller sizes the letters don’t break down:

I find all of this stuff thoroughly exciting; the working in public and demystification of type design, the open conversations with customers, and the fantastical and peculiar options that are now available to use via improvements to the OpenType font format.